Steppin' out on the town.
We’re coming back. New York is coming back from the pandemic blues, along with much of the rest of the country now that many of us have been vaccinated. We’re not out of the woods yet but we’re making great headway, and so it is showing here in many ways, ways that we missed so much. We’re seeing people back on the streets, locals and tourists alike, and it’s especially noticeable here in Greenwich Village, my “home town”. The outdoor spaces that the City granted the right of restaurants to make use of have helped tremendously, and even as the weather starts to cool down we see tables full, sidewalks bustling, and re-emergence is in the air, like a fresh breeze. I’ve been happily partaking of it too, patronizing local restaurants like Pesce Pasta, a great Italian place right across the street, and Le Gigot, a most charming little French Bistro that’s been just around the corner on Cornelia Street for over thirty years and was happily able to make it past the tougher times last year. The local music venues have re-opened as well, notably for me The Blue Note and The Village Vanguard, both world-famous jazz clubs forever. A few weeks ago I got an email from an old pal, Brian Blade, considered by many to be one of the finest jazz drummers in the world. Brian was so excited to tell me that he would be playing at the Vanguard backing up Ron Miles, the great cornet player. This was to be the first show to bring the Vanguard back to life after 18 moths of Pandemic shutdown, and the joint was jumpin’. What Brian had forgotten to tell me though was that also in the group was another true dear old friend, guitarist Bill Frisell. Well, you can imagine! Along with me to take in the spectacular show was yet another great friend, David Waters of the Fender Guitar Company. David had been my Fender sales rep years before and we became true pals, way beyond biz, and it was just so great to be out with a friend, back in front of live music once again.
A review of that evening by Giovanni Russonello appreared in the New York Times on September 20. Picture of Dave and me enjoying the show by An Rong Xu.
And the Film Forum, our local “art house” with wonderful runnings of so many older classics, both well- and not-so-well known, has re-opened. Can’t wait to go back there! The other evening I went to a screening at another little local place of “Pull My Daisy”, a 1959 film of and by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso, all “beat generation" originals, and David Amram, that fabulous composer of such a wide variety of music and part of that '50s crowd. And David was at the screening! He’s 90 now, has not lost a single beat, still tours, and he graced us with a Q&A and a little performance on piano after the showing of the film. What an evening! I had wondered beforehand who I might run into and sure enough, there they were. Mitch Blank, part of many aspects of the folk scene since the 1960s, was there. Mitch is the most noted collector and annotator of everything Bob Dylan, and was chosen to be the curator of the official Dylan collection and museum in Oklahoma a few years ago. He’s back here for a while and we yakked quite a bit about well, this and that. Karen Kramer, a filmmaker who made a great one about Bleecker Street was there too, and Murray Weinstock, who has played with names like John Sebastian, Toots Thielmans, more. It feels SO good to be out again, being around and involved with what I love most, music.